Ph.D. in Human Capital Management

It’s official: I’ve been admitted into the Ph.D. program in Human Capital Management at Bellevue University, into the cohort beginning in March 2013.

Clearly I just can’t get enough letters after my name.

In all seriousness, I’m so very excited… If you’ve been following my musings about higher education, you’ll know that I’ve been considering a doctoral degree for awhile now. I had a couple of criteria that were important to me, however:

  1. I had to be able to continue working throughout the program. I simply can’t afford to be unemployed for 4-5 years while pursuing a traditional tenure-track Ph.D. program.
  2. I wanted it to be in an HR-like field. Whether you call it Human Resources, Organizational Behavior, Management, or something else, it needs to be a program that will let me focus on how people work together more effectively.
  3. Ideally it should be from a “normal” non-profit, brick-and-mortar university, to hopefully escape the stigma that some for-profit online-only universities (such as the University of Phoenix) have as “diploma mills” that just sell you a degree with little really effort or scholarly research.

After my interview yesterday morning with the program director of Bellevue’s Ph.D. program, I feel comfortable that this fits the bill.

The Ph.D. program in Human Capital Management is the first doctoral-level program that Bellevue has offered, and it’s a couple of years in (so no-one has completed it yet, but the first cohort is getting close). There will be two years of classes, broken up into four modules, and then a dissertation on a research project that you conduct within your workplace, which typically takes around two years.

The program is designed for working professionals, so it’s meant for people who will be working during “business hours” and doing their school work at night and on the weekends. Students join in “cohorts” (meaning the same ~20 people will be working together for the entire duration) and meet at the beginning of each academic year of their program. This means that I’ll be in Bellevue, Nebraska for a week in March for the next couple of years, spending time with my new classmates and doing some intense in-person studies. Most of the interactions will be online, through discussion groups, reading assignments, writing papers, and so on.

The topic of study/research is focused on how investments in human capital — recruiting, training, etc. — can lead to business outcomes. So basically, putting a dollars-and-cents value on the human resources work that we do to build and train an effective workforce. Given my background with recruiting and training, this seems like a fantastic way to really grow my expertise in a field I’ve already got some experience and interest in.

Even better, I had a lengthy conversation with the program director about my interest in diversity and inclusion programs, and how they help contribute to a vibrant and successful workforce. We talked about the possibility of me steering my dissertation — the ~2 year research project I’ll be doing in the workplace — towards the financial impact that diversity training can have (including reduced recruiting costs, improved employee satisfaction and engagement, reduced attrition, etc.)

And finally, I’m relieved to learn that Bellevue University is a legitimate, well established, non-profit school. It’s been an accredited “brick-and-mortar” traditional university for decades, and started expanding into online bachelor’s degrees in 1996. Their undergraduate business programs even have separate accreditation from the IACBE. And the fact that it’s a non-profit university makes me feel loads better about the whole “diploma mill” thing. U.S. News & World Report even ranked their online program #1 for student engagement.

It’s a fantastic new adventure… and you may safely assume that I’ll be rambling on about it for the next few years. More to come!

4 Responses to Ph.D. in Human Capital Management

  1. Joanne says:

    Congratulations Kevin!

  2. Bryan says:

    How is your degree going? Do you like Bellevue? I’m considering it and researching other people’s views.


  3. gatoruptown says:

    Bryan, check this out: That summarizes my experience over the first year.

    A few more posts throughout the first year might give you more insight into the struggles that I had, and how I had to adjust my expectations:

  4. I haven’t seen if you completed your PhD or not at Bellevue and would love to hear how it culminated in the dissertation when you did… or why you left the program alternatively. I’m considering the new DBA at Bellevue which utilizes most of the same faculty, but of course the faculty likely had some turnover since you started your progam. Also I am very interested in the names of the faculty with. whom you had the most trouble .

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